Reckless Kelly and Wings win Grammy packaging awards

A lunar-themed design for Texas band Reckless Kelly’s album Long Night Moon was named Best Record Package at the 56th Grammy Awards last night, beating sleeve designs for David Bowie, Jay-Z and Metallica.

A lunar-themed design for Texas band Reckless Kelly’s album Long Night Moon was named Best Record Package at the 56th Grammy Awards last night, beating sleeve designs for David Bowie, Jay-Z and Metallica.

The packaging for Long Night Moon was designed by sisters Sarah and Shauna Dodds, founders of Austin-based Backstage Design Studios. It comes with a UV light which can be used to reveal hidden codes printed in glow-in-the-dark invisible ink, and a 12-panel poster insert featuring a lunar map surrounded by moons, each representing the moon phase on the night of a significant date in the making of the album or the band’s history.

Stars dotted around the artwork represent various constellations, while moons on the back cover depict lunar phases on the date each track was written. Hidden codes include the chords used in each track and a story made up of selected lyrics from each song. Backstage Design Studios also received a Grammy nomination for their circus-themed packaging for Reckless Kelly’s previous album, Good Luck & True Love – you can see images and read more about the making of Long Night Moon on the studio’s website.

Also nominated was Brian Grunert and Annie Stoll‘s design for New York band Geneseo’s album, Automatic Music Can be Fun, created with band members Zac Decamp and Mike Browne. As well as some striking black and white imagery, the fold-out packaging features lyrics printed underneath scratch-off material. Certain words from each track were left uncovered, making a poem, and Decamp and Browne created a bonus track out of the uncovered words. To download the track, users had to scratch to reveal clues hidden in the packaging:

Fellow nominee Brian Roettinger also concealed lyrics under scratch-off material in packaging for Jay-Z’s album, Magna Carta…Holy Grail. The album is housed in a transparent slip case which contains three four page spreads and a 28-page photo booklet featuring images of the artist. The artwork was unveiled at Salisbury Cathedral in July last year, where the album was placed in a glass case alongside the real Magna Carta. A bold marketing move from Jay-Z – and a puzzling one from the Cathedral.

Jonathan Barnbrook’s artwork for Bowie album The Next Day received a nomination, too – you can read about the concept for the album’s design here and view more images of the packaging on Virus Fonts’ website (packaging uses Virus’ Doctrine typeface).

The final nomination was Bruce Duckworth, Sarah Moffat, Brian Steele & David Turner’s black, white and red design for the sound track to Metallica’s Through the Never tour film. The cover symbol uses the lightning bolt ‘M’ from the band’s original logo, drawn by lead singer James Hetfield:

TurnerDuckworth also designed the identity for Metallica’s previous album, Death Magnetic, and the promotional material for the Through the Never Tour.

Best Boxed/Special Limited Edition Package

Two out of the Grammy’s 78 awards categories celebrate music packaging – the second, for the best boxed or special limited edition package, was awarded to Simon Earith and James Musgrave for their deluxe edition of Wings’ 1976 album Wings Over America.

It’s certainly packed full of content, with an 80-page book of drawings by artist Humphrey Ocean, a 60-page photographic journal documenting the ’76 tour, a 136-page replica tour book and a 112-page book featuring editorial by David Fricke. See each item in detail in an unboxing video here:

Also nominated was Ross Stirling’s deluxe edition of Mumford & Sons album, The Road to Red Rocks, which comes in a gold foil-embossed case housing a 96-page book with interviews and footage from the show:

Charles Dooher and Scott Sandler’s artwork for the deluxe box set of Rolling Stones album, The Brussels Affair, which includes a watch, a lithograph signed by Mr Jagger and a book containing rare and unseen images from the 1973 tour:

A box set for Mayer Hawthorne album How Do You Do, featuring 12 7″ vinyls in individual photographic sleeves and accompanying plastic display sheet:

And my favourite, art director Masaki Koike’s design for The Smith Tapes – a limited edition collection unheard interviews with musicians, artists and cultural figures from the 1970s which was funded through a Kickstarter campaign. Each disc is housed in an individual case with a retro graphic cover and the box set comes with a cassette-shaped USB stick and exclusive print:

You can see more images on Koike‘s website or read more about the project at

While each of the winning designs are very different, there are some similarities: winners and nominees in the Best Record Package category all feature either an interactive element or monochrome cover design. Koike’s work for the Smith Tapes is the most visually striking in the deluxe and limited edition category, but the Wings box set isn’t a particularly surprising winner given the wealth of content and behind the scenes footage included in the sold out package.

To see last year’s winning designs or the full list of Grammy categories, click here.

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